The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will expand trials of an automated system that provides near real-time processing of airspace authorisation requests for operators of unmanned aircraft (UAS).
Under the FAA’s Part 107 small drone rule, operators will have to obtain the agency’s permission to operate in any US airspace controlled by an air traffic facility.
In November last year, the agency implemented the prototype of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) at several air traffic facilities to evaluate the feasibility of a fully automated solution enabled by data sharing.
Its success means that the FAA will now conduct a beta test across the US starting 30 April, under which it will deploy LAANC incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering about 500 airports.
The final deployment is set to commence on 13 September.
Drone operators who use LAANC will be able to receive near real-time airspace authorisations, which will reduce waiting time compared to the manual authorisation process.
Additionally, the air traffic controllers can see where planned drone operations will take place.
Starting 16 April, the FAA will accept and evaluate applications from more entities to provide LAANC services in addition to the current four, including Rockwell Collins, AirMap, Project Wing and Skyward.
The LAANC system depends on data provided through UAS facility maps, which show the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA may authorise operations under Part 107.
Furthermore, LAANC enables drone operators to interact with the maps and provide automatic notification and authorisation requests to the FAA.